Reading Labels for Food Al ergens
Ingredients of food products are listed in descending order by weight. The ingredient list can
Food labels identify food al ergens in one of three ways:
1. The name of the food source is listed in parentheses after the common name of the
2. The label may say “contains” which is fol owed by the name of the food source from
which the major food al ergen is derived, such as “contains wheat, milk and soy.”
3. Products labeled before January 1, 2006, may not give the common food al ergen
names or include a “contains” statement. Read the entire ingredient label thoroughly
Some foods contain hidden sources of al ergens.
Milk and Dairy Products
• Tuna - may contain casein, a milk protein
• Nondairy products - may contain milk derivatives
• Meats - may contain the binding agent, casein, a milk protein
• Medicines - some medicines such as Benadryl®, contain the fil er, lactose, a milk
• Egg substitutes - some contain egg whites
• Pasta - some processed cooked pastas contain eggs or have been processed on equipment
• Artificial nuts - some are peanut-based with flavoring to make them taste like other nuts
• Arachis oil - another name for peanut oil
National Food Service Management Institute • The University of Mississippi
Reading Labels for Food Al ergens, continued
• Chocolate candy - may have been produced on equipment used to process peanuts or
peanut-containing foods and cross-contact occurs
• Cultural foods - many Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, or African foods contain
• Sunflower seeds - many are manufactured on equipment used to produce peanuts
• Nut but ers - may have been processed on the same equipment used to make peanut but er
• Flavorings - artificial and natural flavorings may contain tree nuts
• Other foods - tree nuts may be used in foods, such as cereals, crackers, ice cream, and
Fish or shel fish
• Caesar salad - anchovies are often used as an ingredient
• Meat sauces - Worcestershire sauce and steak sauce may contain anchovies
• Other food products - soy may be found in canned tuna, crackers, cereals, sauces, soups,
• Imitation meat and seafood products - wheat flour may be flavored and shaped to resemble
• Hot dogs - wheat is an ingredient in some brands
• Imitation crabmeat - some types contain wheat
Mayo Clinic. (2007). Hidden sources of food al ergens.
Retrieved November 17, 2008, from
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2006).
Information for consumers: Food al ergen labeling and consumer protection act of 2004
questions and answers.
Retrieved November 17, 2008, from www.cfsan.fda.gov
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service through a grant
agreement with The University of Mississippi. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The University of
Mississippi is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer.
For more information, contact NFSMI at 800-321-3054 or www.nfsmi.org.
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